Alison – The Bronx is up and the Battery is down.
Our cabs are driven by lunatics who have a) recently escaped a Chinese Psychiatric facility, b) been kicked out of the Taliban for unnatural relations with a herd of goats or c) graduated from a Pakistan University having majored in Cell Phone Screaming. Indeed, there is nothing like flying through the air in the back of a yellow cab while the driver screams obscenties in a strange tongue like a mad auctioneer at some other compatriot over a handsfree cell phone. On imagines he is demanding blood vengeance or perhaps just asking if he needs to pick up groceries. Perhaps both. In any event the fare from the airport is about $45.00. Tipping (cabs, bars, restuarants is 15-20%).
Manhattan is one of the world’s great wonders. Whatever you want to find, it is here. It is a City that is possible to love and hate at the same time. Comprised of many neighborhoods it is best explored on foot, with smart use of the subways. The subways are not as clean as the Tube, but they run all the time, are quite safe and can put you down almost anywhere in the City.
There are some tourist places that you should check out even if it seems everone on Earth and their brother are checking out – The Empire State Building, Times Square at Night and Central Park. The view from the Empire State Building is priceless even if the lines can be long (go early or at an odd hour). Times Square is full of more crazies than an ATW convention, and you can get your picture taken with the Naked Cowboy. Central Park is vast, friendly (daytime), and has a great little Zoo with penguins.
Little Italy is a must experience. Take a cab to Canal and Mulberry Street and walk on up Mulberry. I always take folks to LaMela for its pushy waiters who are right out of the Sopranos (“You Again?!” is how they welcome long time customers). Take the family style dinner – tomatoes and mozzarella, hot antipasta, mixed pasta, meat dish and desert for one price. It is hard to get up from the table.
Greenwich Village is full of galleries, restaurants, pubs, musicvenues and our more flamboyant citizens. Bleecker Street is the main drag (drag queens on Christopher Street). This is where Bob Dylan and others got their start. Watering holes The Red Lion, Peculiar Pub, Bitter End and the Back Fence are filled at night with youth trying to recapture the scene.
Other Fun spots around town include Pete’s Tavern (129E. 18th Street) where O.Henry wrote The Gift of the Magi, Old Town Bar (45 E. 18th Street), Rodeo Bar (375 3rd Avenue) where you can hear country, rockabilliy and bluegrass, Brother Jimmy’s (181 Lexington at 31st Street) for the young meat market, Down the Hatch (179 W. 4th Street) where bikers and college kids mingle, Rolf’s (281 3rd Avenue) which is a small German eating joint and quite festive in October. I always take folks to McSorley’s Old Ale House (15 E. 7th Street) where they have two kinds of beer dark and light – they brew it themselves. But get there in the early afterrnoon cause there are lines at night.
Steak? – Phantom would say Luger’s but it is in Brooklyn. I suggest Keens (72 W 36th Street) for geat old New York charm, best scotch collection in the City and old turn of the 20th century atmosphere. Clay pipes of the old patrons line the ceiling and you can toast Lillie Langtry the famous actress and paramour of King Edward who sued to get access to the then gentleman only place.
Katz Deli at 205 Houston Street (pronounced HOW -sten) is old style Jewish Deli where the portions would shame Nero.
SOHO, the area below Houston has shops, restaurants, coffee houses and pubs/clubs galore. TRIBECA is dead at night but alive at midnight – however it is best to know where you want to go. The Meatpacking District has some hot nightspots but takes cabs to and from as that neighborhood is a little dicey late at night. TheUpper West Side is a walker’s paradise.
The Metropolitan Museuam of Art is worth the time if you get the chance, it has several ancient mummies (one of whom dated McCain in High School) and its own massive Egyptian Temple. I’d go in the morning and then walk down Fifth Avenue from there along the park, past the Plaza, Tiffany’s (they don’t really serve breakfast) and St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. At 42nd Street (where the Lions guard the front of the Main Library) turn left and head over to Grand Central Station which has a wonderful main room that is 11stories high. In front of Grand central as you face West you’ll see the Chryler Building that you wanted to snap. You can moon the United Nations Building at the same time.
Sweater Weather in October, but the leaves should be changing colors. If there are any particular places you want to know about just ask and I’ll give you my thoughts. I am sure I’ve forgotten several hundred things. New Yorkers actually enjoy tourists so feel free to strike up conversations and ask for directions. Enjoy and welcome.